Uruguay's Prez: Legalize Pot

Users could sign up for registration cards to buy the drug
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2012 3:16 PM CDT
Updated Jul 30, 2012 3:32 PM CDT
In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, Uruguay's President Jose Mujica attends a press conference at the presidential residence in Montevideo, Uruguay.   (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)
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(Newser) – Uruguayan President José Mujica wants to end the reign of violent drug cartels in his country, and he thinks legalizing marijuana may be the answer. He released a proposal last month calling for the formation of a government-run industry that would manage the cultivation and sales of the drug, reports the New York Times. If he's able to carry out his plan, Uruguay would be the first country to completely legalize marijuana, since the Netherlands simply ignores pot use among its citizens and Portugal has done away with criminal penalties for using drugs. Obviously, not everyone is on board with Mujica's plans.

The US continues to lead an aggressive war on drugs that is a far cry from any sort of legalization. Even some of Uruguay's own marijuana smokers, like activist Juan Vaz, are speaking out, fearing that Mujica's idea for a drug registry is dangerously Orwellian. The president will have to work hard to change their minds, because he'll need to rely on people like Vaz—who was once locked up for growing marijuana plants—to grow pot legally. “We want to separate the market: users from traffickers, marijuana from other drugs like heroin," Mujica said in his proposal.

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